FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 10, 2021
Government Accountability Project Urges Lawmakers to Include Whistleblower Protections in Law Enforcement Accountability Legislation
WASHINGTON – With reports that congressional negotiators are approaching agreement on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project, issued the following statement:
“The nation can be excited if the first major bi-partisan consensus since the election is to shield human rights from police abuses of power. However, there have been troubling signs that the vital legislation will not include whistleblower protections.
Murder has always been illegal. The problem is proving it. There will not always be a heroic civilian bystander with a smart phone to record abuses. Often, justice will depend on honest law enforcement officers providing the evidence. But they face a double-barreled threat. First, the Blue Wall of Silence not only is a cultural tradition to cover-up abuses, but also one that, if violated, means sacrificing your career and even risking your life. Second, they must accept that future without any meaningful protection against retaliation. If law enforcement whistleblowers cannot defend themselves, it is unrealistic to expect that they will be willing to risk everything to defend the public.
It might seem odd to give more rights to police while trying to reform policing. However, whistleblower protection means more controls on police retaliation against the cops trying to expose abuses.
Thirty-three law enforcement whistleblowers who risked their careers, sometimes without credible rights, have called for reforms to include whistleblower protection. So have 171 NGOs, reflecting both stakeholders and law enforcement groups.
A bi-partisan group of lawmakers has been working to advance whistleblower rights since last year, including Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Gerald Connelly.
The negotiators should take advantage of their work and strengthen this bill.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.